Schick Shadel Hospital Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Schick Shadel Hospital


Schick Shadel HospitalSchick Shadel Hospital Review

In 1935, the same year Bill and Dr. Bob founded Alcoholics Anonymous, Charles Shadel opened his own doors to struggling alcoholics. Shadel found a partner in Dr. Walter Voegtlin, and together they started a counter-conditioning program for the treatment of alcoholism at Shadel Hospital in Seattle. Then, in 1964, Shadel Hospital won the lottery; the CEO of the Schick Safety Razor Company checked in as a patient, and he was so pleased with his recovery that he poured millions into the Hospital’s development.

The counter-conditioning program developed in the ‘30s is still the focal point of the recovery program Schick Shadel Hospital offers; first developed for alcohol, the program now offers treatment for clients addicted to illegal and prescription drugs. Schick Shadel runs an aversion therapy program. Clients detox if necessary, proceed to inpatient for 10 days of treatment, and then return for two-day “reinforcement” visits at their 30 day and 90 day sobriety marks.

Accommodations and Food

Schick Shadel is a hospital—private and semi-private rooms can be requested for an additional fee and meals are served in a big dining room. It suggests clients bring their own pillows and there’s not a lot of extra space, but there are TV’s in every room. After check-in clients wear scrubs and robes, not street clothes and they recommend bringing slippers, flip-flops, or sandals for walking around the hospital. There is workout equipment for clients who want to exercise in their free time, however, so sneakers are appropriate in that case.

Clients might not be able to wear their favorite jeans, but here are some of the things clients can do at Schick Shadel that are awesome: order a pizza or other outside meals; use their cell phones, computers and the hospital’s free WiFi. They can bring whatever books and magazines they like, take out reading material and DVDs from the hospital library and take food and drinks from the snack room back with them to their rooms.

Outside, there’s a cozy smoking deck with a fire pit and heaters. For the non-smokers there’s a landscaped gazebo and walking path around the property for reflection and meditation.

Treatment and Staff

AA suggests that alcoholics approach their sobriety “one day at a time”; Schick Shadel claims that its conditioning program eliminates the “one day at a time” struggle. Traditional facilities for substance abuse focus on the cerebral cortex, the cognitive part of the brain, but Schick Shadel says one can’t reason his or her way out of physiological cravings. But counter conditioning works, it says. So here’s how it works. For clients without medical limitations, Schick Shadel administers emetic drugs, a.k.a. drugs that cause a physical purge. Faradic treatment (shock therapy) is used for clients who aren’t able to take the chemical conditioning (vomiting). These aversion therapy techniques are used to help patients lose cravings, and Schick Shadel believes that addicts stand a better chance of staying sober without cravings. These treatments are administered by medical and clinical staff under the supervision of a medical director whose subspecialty is in addiction psychiatry. These aversion therapies are built into the schedule with more traditional content. Clients at Schick Shadel meet for group and individual therapy where they are introduced to relaxation techniques and education about the disease of addiction. Clients also receive nutritional counseling and dual diagnosis medication as needed.

Schick Shadel claims that of all its inpatient care, clients are most nostalgic for the minimal sedation sessions or “rehabilitation interviews” offered. An anesthesiologist gives the client a sedative and then the client is asked a series of questions about their use of drugs and alcohol. Under sedation, clients are also coached to develop “permissive affirmations”—affirmations that begin with phrases like “I can” and “It’s OK to…” the goal being to reprogram the mind on a subconscious level.

Schick Shadel is not a 12-step treatment facility, but as a part of a continuing care plan it does suggest to clients some type of self-help group after leaving treatment, whether it’s AA or another sober support group. Support and group celebrations are also offered for alumni at Schick Shadel. The Continuing Care team encourages graduates of the program to stay in touch and to set-up their own local support groups.

In Summary

Counter conditioning is old school. In fact, Shadel’s method is as old as AA itself. Creating an aversion in place of cravings might be a viable option for those who would strongly prefer a unique alternative to traditional 12-step programs.

Schick Shadel Hospital Location

12101 Ambaum Blvd Southwest
Seattle, WA 98146

Schick Shadel Hospital Cost

$17,400 (10 Days). Reach Schick Shadel Hospital by phone at (206) 244-8100 at or by email. Find Schick Shadel Hospital on Facebook

DO you have a complaint or review of Schick Shadel Hospital to add? Use the comments area below to add your Schick Shadel Hospital review.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)



  1. Schick Shadel (SSH) does work. I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it. While there, I met many that had been trough 30 day treatments and relapsed.

    Don’t kid yourself, however. It is invasive and not a comfortable 10 days (plus detox if needed). What SSH does do is break the physical cravings. The mental addiction still has to be managed. You can’t drink again or the cravings will return (quickly).

    This has medically proven at the University of Washington Medical School of Medicine via pMRI scans.

    The treatment is not new. It’s two years older than AA. Relapse is still a possibility, but it’s a HUGE jumpstart. It’s worth the money and all the discomfort. I can personally attest to that.

  2. Schick was the best thing that ever happened to me for the treatment of alcoholism. Cognitive rather than 12-step spiritual, which for some, makes sense. Was there in 2011, and even though there were caring professionals on hand 24/7, patients were not in lockdown-in comparison to other facilities. Treatment was UNcomfortable, but not torturous! Food was not great, but acceptable-and besides I didn’t expect gourmet cuisine; that wasn’t my focus! flatscreen tvs in rooms, cell phones allowed, and smoking allowed outdoors and on a deck that was available for patients. Computers and small library collection on lower level, with a working fireplace to lounge by-when not in treatment or counseling sessions. Discount for Union members, which took 4K off my total bill-at the time -13K. Worth every penny. I wish they would open on the East Coast so that I could apply-since I am now a Substance Abuse Counselor!

  3. I am a former 11 year employee of the hospital.   I am not doing this do be vindictive at all, but to inform people  of some things before admitting themselves or a loved one.

    First of all, the treatment does work.  But only for those who are truly ready.  And to those who have no psychological issues that cause them to drink.  If it was just a case of “I partied too hard and I can’t go on but I need help to do it”, then this is the place for you.  
    There is a level of disorganization that was embarrassing for me to see on a daily basis.   Over the past few years, it went from a well organized patient experience to a mere shadow of it once was.  Once the hospital went from being owned by former patients to it’s current 2nd corporate ownership, the majority of the most talented and experienced nursing, counseling, and administrative staff have left, retired, or been let go.  And with them, so went much of the caring spirit that made this a special hospital.  

    The reason for this disorganization and the sense of not getting the $20,000 worth of quality care is the staffing levels.  The nursing, counselors, and dietary staff were woefully understaffed and were working in crisis mode at all times.  The reason for this was the never ending drive to increase the bottom line brought on by the culture of it’s parent corporation.  Some of the counselors there are wonderful, but don’t expect to get much.  There is not enough time to get to all of the patients.  At least that is what I experienced up until my leaving.  Some of the nurses are great, but there is such turnover, that the “culture of Schick” has been mostly lost.  

    As for the food, you are definitely not going to get what you feel is a good value for the $20,000 the treatment costs.  Unless you like frozen chicken pot pies that you can get for $1.  Or the burrito that sits next to the pot pie in the freezer at 7-11. Or a “reuben” that consists of one thick slice of unpleasant corned beef.   Financial margin takes priority over quality of food.

    And that brings me to the main reason I am writing this.  Beware of the business office and the financial demands made on you before admission and during your stay.   By the time of my leaving, if you had an estimated balance of over a certain threshold, you were expected to pay enough to bring the balance to that level.  And the admission staff were continually pressured to try to get all of this estimated balance at admission or be led to a lending company that charges outrageous interest rates.  If you have a balance, the business office will make you sign a financial agreement on your first day of treatment.  Monthly payments that are required are in the mid hundreds per month and will be due within the month after discharge.   For a patient that just leaves detoxification, is on their first day,  is scared and not knowing what is going to happen, this can easily make a patient feel blindsided.  And many times since the patient has ruined themselves financially, these monthly payments can be overwhelming.   Too often, the patient can have this hanging over their heads when they should be focused 100% on their treatment.  If you happen to be late on a payment, you will be receiving a call from a collector who will have a minimal amount of patience regarding your bill.  It can drive a former patient to drink!  

    I understand that a business needs to make their income goals, but as with other for-profit hospitals,  if your insurance is in network with the facility, they have already recouped their costs in almost all cases.  Therefore, all of the cash paid is profit on top in those cases.  I will not divulge details.  As they are a publicly traded company (UHS), you can see their financial reports for yourself and see their healthy profit margin. Obviously, money losing hospitals would be forced raise costs to meet the corporate profit goals.  My past few years there, the almighty dollar was the top priority.  

    But if you have the financial ability to pay for this treatment (and another in case this does not work), then no cost is too high to halt something that will kill you. If I had a family member struggle with addiction, I wish I could have recommended Schick.  But unfortunately, I could not and feel confident they would get what is promised.  

    I would have given them 2 stars on this review since it does save some lives, but I can only give them one star knowing the staff is treated miserably by the management.

    The final thing I want to mention is that Pat O’Day, the longtime spokesperson of Schick is proof that this treatment can work.  He is honest in his enthusiasm for good reason.  But unfortunately, this is not the same Schick experience that he went though.

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